TED Radio Hour

By Joel Simler

I am too freaking excited to share this next podcast with you. First of all, please, please, please tell me you already watch, have seen, or at least heard of the globally active conference known as TED Talks? Yes? Yes! No? That’s ok, you’ll be in the loop soon enough. TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design), is a conference of people who have shown excellence, resourcefulness and creativity in a huge variety of topics ranging from: science/technology, artistry, humanity, and beyond, who stand up on stage and talk to the audience about their ideas, projects, research, etc. While these conferences have been occurring regularly for well over 20 years, they have only become easily accessible and widely known in the last decade or so. Very likely most of you have seen TED videos on Youtube and thrown about people’s various social media sites (Facebook, Twitter, etc…). Thanks to that, plus a heaping pile of them available on Netflix, these 10-18 minute videos are way too easy to chug through in a night of binge watching. But, we’re not here to talk about TED Talks in its televised incarnation, we’re here to talk about NPR and TED’s collaboration known as The TED Radio Hour. Let me tell you, if you’re a fan of the TED Talks (or soon to be fan…) then prepare yourself for the ultimate hour of all that is TED!

Now let me break this down for you. TED Radio Hour is actually fairly new. It began as a pilot on NPR member stations in 2012, but by Mach of 2013 it had amassed quite a crowd of happy listeners as well as a new host, Guy Raz. Each episode brings you a collection of TED Talks all fitting around a central theme, while the content consists of recordings from individual TED speakers, as well as interviews with that person. The show definitely works as a sampler platter for many different TED Talks, but it actually serves a higher purpose as well by allowing the speakers to elaborate on their ideas beyond the short talks they give on stage. Host Guy Raz does a great job by being truly inquisitive of the topics at hand, and his curiosity is contagious. What sets the podcast apart from the on-stage talks, is Guy being there able to ask questions that many people would like to ask, but wouldn’t have the chance to. On top of that, Guy is also able to interview people who were not on the TED stage, but were still involved.

OK, so now the question is where to begin; and I have just the episode to start you off. The name of the episode is “Extrasensory”, and it’s easily my favorite episode. Seriously my friends, the future is now, and these speakers in this episode prove it. The premise of the episode is about equipping people with a disability with a prosthetic that is, simply put, mind blowing. Enter Neil Harbisson, an artist who lives in a world lacking any colorblindness. It came to him as a shock when at age 11 he made this discovery. Initially Neil seemed to resent his color blindness, and even color itself. Deciding to remove all color from his life, he had his parents buy him clothes devoid of all color. Soon he discovered that avoiding color was nearly impossible, and instead sought out a more proactive solution. Now Neil walks around with a camera device attached surgically to his skull, which allows him to literally hear different colors, including one’s us regular old humans can’t see! That’s not all this episode has to offer either. This episode will bring you to the forefront of prosthetic limbs and the use of mechanical hands, as well as the process for giving those with impaired speech a chance to be bestowed with a voice nearly identical to what theirs could be. Thanks to master sound engineer’s and donor voices a 12 year old girl could have a voice that actually sounds like a 12 year old, instead of the traditional “Stephen Hawking” voice.

I’ve got one more recommendation, before I set you free into the giant world of TED that I hope you go and explore. That episode is entitled “Simply Happy”. One of the reasons I really enjoy TED is it makes me feel motivated, inspired, happy, and a whole slew of positive emotions. This episode does not lack in the department of positive emotions either. Guy interviews TED speakers whose job it is to study happiness. What I love is the ingenuity researchers can employ nowadays days due to advances in technology. For example, researcher Matt Killingsworth wanted to get a good scope on what people feel in any given moment, but found it difficult to gather that information through typical research means. So He developed a cell phone texting app that automatically sends out a questionnaire to willing volunteers throughout the day inquiring about where they are, and how they feel about their current situation. Overall, this is a very entertaining episode that helps the listener understand happiness in a way most haven’t heard, as well as helping people find ways to develop their own happiness!
Definitely check it out.

Joel Simler- Born in Seattle, raised in Bellingham, Joel is a real cloud loving, tree climbing, North Westerner. He can be found living by a Troll in Seattle, often exploring a vast array of breweries, and music happenings. He works as an audio/video technician in Redmond giving him a perfect drive for listening to podcasts. He is also a professionally certified dance instructor, and produces his own local concerts in his spare time.

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